While attending the China track at this year’s J.P. Morgan conference in January I sat next to a gentleman who was smiling as he scanned the jam-packed penthouse meeting room. Shooting him a questioning glance, he responded with “last year I attended there were five people here.” While I find it hard to believe a session on China was poorly attended, even a year ago, biotech and pharma executives were noticeably shoulder to shoulder, jockeying for position just a few months ago. Intensity over the Chinese market has certainly ramped up, to say the least.
As company after Chinese company pitched and presented, the Q&A at the end of each session seemed to steer away from the usual grilling about the companies’ worth and pipes. Instead, questions were focused on how to get a toehold in China. Where to start? How to deal with the government? Should we go it alone or partner with existing Chinese companies?
A few weeks ago a contingent of U.S. executives, led by the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s President and CEO Jim Greenwood, visited China. It was a sort of pregame show in advance of BIO’s first China International Partnering Conference in October in Shanghai. The execs came home awestruck. BioWorld Today’s Tom Wall wrote about their impressions from that visit in a new series dubbed Biotech’s Emerging Giant, with the first article found here: http://bit.ly/k8kcJ2
Joshua Boger, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. visited a manufacturing site for starting materials for the company’s just-approved hepatitis C drug Incivek (telaprevir), and declared the facility to be so immaculate and well prepared that “You can eat off the floor. Everything over there is so much better coordinated.”
In part II of the series published today, Wall interviews executives who are advising slow comers to light a fire under their China strategies . . . if a company expects to be around in the next five to 10 years.